"Perhaps this is an obvious point, but the demoicratic postulate is that the media are independent and committed to discovering and reporting the truth, and that thaey do not merely reflect the world as powerful groups wish it to be perceived. Leaders of the media claim that their news choices rest on unbiased professional and objective criteria, and they have support for this contention in the intellectual community. If, however, the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear, and think about, and to
'manage' public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns, the standard view of how the system works is at serious odds with reality.”
In my latest read, Chomsky and Herman tackle the US mass media - offering a framework with explanatory and predictive powers - and compare them to news. That be said, they do draw on some research from other countries - like James Curran and Jean Seatos analysis of Britians media - to illustrate their point too. News is big money now days, and the profit motive can be seen to disrupt the quest for public knowledge around every corner. WNET, for example, lost corporate funding after airing the documentary “hungry for profit”. So businesses obviously interfere and exert pressure on the media.
The five media filters that they suggest are as follows:
Size, Ownership, and profit orientation of the media,
The advertising License to do business
Sourcing mass-media news
Flak and the enforcers
and anti-communism, something that now would be converted into something like the war on terror - same ideological hysteria, different enemies.
Its interesting watching someone explain what actually happened versus the media portrayal, with a wide range of sampled outlets to demonstrate the point - including the tone, content etc. Exposing where papers are regurgatating state lines ad verbatum and where they marginalize or ignore other reputatable sources of frames of reference. They try to show, empirically, what is going on with the media versus the reality. My personal favourite bits in this was where, to illustrate the absurdity of western premises, the authors imagined similar phrases, etc as applied to soviet russia in a slighty sarcastic manner. “We might ask how we would characterize the Soviet media if the harshest condemnation of the war in Afghanistan that could be expressed in the year 2000 is that Soviet support for the democratic regime in Afghanistan that invited the Russians in might be justified, although the “freedom” that the Soviets were defending was perhaps minimal and the cost was far too high” (an act of agression, in comparison with the US’s invasion of vietnam). They look at genocides in different countries - those supported by and those not supported by the US, elections in El Salvador, Guatemale, and Nicaragua and how they were portrayed (SPOILER: the worse ones with US support are portrayed better), the popes assassination attempt, and wars in indochina. Sometimes they expose such inconsistancy, incompotence and lack of regard for the facts that one would be tempted to laugh if it was not deadly serious.
So a good book, one of those classic “essential reads” of the 20th century in political literature. Also, the footnoting is fairly substantial and demands your attention! I went through them, chapter by chapter, as they can provide important exceptions to the rule or elaborations